JP and I are experienced dog owners. We are able to easily recognize the symptoms of common, non-life threatening illnesses that we can safely treat at home, and we are advocates of the “wait and see” approach. Just like you don’t go to the doctor every time you feel under the weather, your dog doesn’t need to either. At the same time, we also immediately bring B to the vet if we think something may be serious or if we’re simply not sure (hey, we can’t know everything).
There is no substitute for regular veterinary care, but at the same time, I don’t feel that dogs need to be rushed to the vet every time they cough. I understand that for new dog parents, it can be a challenge to determine when something is serious (we’ve been there!). As such, I’d like to share some of our safe and effective home remedies that we use on B as required so that others can help their dogs feel better faster (without a hefty and unnecessary vet bill).
6 Safe and Effective Home Remedies for Your Dog
Treating a Mild Cough
B currently has a very mild cough, which is what inspired me to write this post. When a dog coughs, he sounds absolutely pitiful. However, not every cough is serious or indicates kennel cough. In the same way that you can feel a bit crappy for a few days, so can your dog. We have brought B to the vet for coughs in the past (when we were new dog parents) and we’ve generally been told that it just needs time to pass (same as human colds do).
A few things to try:
- Mix pure honey with your dog’s food to help soothe his throat (B is skeptical of honey, but he does eat it).
- Use low sodium chicken broth to soften your dog’s food and make it easier for him to eat.
- Give your dog an appropriate dose (based on his weight) of Robitussin DM. This will not “cure” his cough, but it will supress it so that he can rest comfortably and feel better sooner.
The first point I’d like to make is that diarrhea can be life threatening for puppies, so please bring your little one to the vet if he is experiencing it. Puppies can become easily dehydrated and it’s much better to be safe than sorry where your puppy is concerned.
Having said that, B is a boxer and they are known for tummy troubles (among other things). If we had to bring him to the vet every time, we would be bankrupt. However, if the diarrhea is also accompanied by vomiting, extreme lethargy, and an unwillingness to eat, then it’s time to go to the vet!
When B has soft stool (and no other symptoms), this is what we do:
- Take his food away for a full 24 hours (this includes treats). B is never happy about this, but it’s necessary to “clean him out.”
- Introduce boiled chicken, plain rice, and some canned pumpkin after the 24 hours have past. We always have canned pumpkin on hand, it’s our miracle cure, seriously. Pro-tip: we give B plain yogurt with his breakfast to aid in digestion and to help keep his tummy happy.
- For more serious cases, dogs are able to take Pepto Bismol. True story: B runs away when he sees the Pepto bottle being shaken.
- My friend mentioned that she uses diluted chamomile tea when her dog is having tummy troubles and I have confirmed with our vet that this is a safe option too. Pro tip: you can also spray chamomile tea onto itchy or irritated dog skin.
- After a bout of diarrhea, it is safe to mix pedialytes with your dog’s water. This doesn’t work for us because B refuses to drink water with anything in it, but less picky dogs will probably drink it!
If your dog is having an allergic reaction that is impacting his breathing, he needs to go to the vet immediately. Otherwise, it is safe to give him Benadryl at a does of 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.
If your dog has swallowed something bad (and hey, it happens), then you may need to induce vomiting to help him pass it in a way that doesn’t wreak havoc on his insides. This will only work if you implement this method quickly (read: not three days after your dog swallowed something foreign). Once the foreign object has moved down the digestive tract, your dog will either need to pass it “out the other end” or possibly require surgery at the vet.
Here’s the formula:
- One teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per ten pounds of body weight. This can be repeated every 15-20 minutes (up to three times) until the dog vomits. Pro tip: to get B to swallow liquid he doesn’t want anywhere near him, we use a syringe to squirt it directly down his throat.
Preventing Ear Infections
B has only had one ear infection in his life and that was after he was skunked. He had a few baths in fairly quick succession and water in the ears can cause infections. Now, whenever B has a bath or goes swimming, we put cotton balls in his ears to keep the water out. You can first moisten the cotton balls with baby oil to make them more comfortable.
Treating (and Preventing) Bladder Infections and Urinary Tract Infections
If you dog doesn’t mind additives in his water, put some sugar-free cranberry juice in his water dish. If he’s like B, then you can give him a cranberry pill. B has only had this issue once, but it’s an ongoing one for his cousin, Toby. Luckily, Toby doesn’t mind drinking cranberry juice, which clears it up within a couple of days. It’s gross, but the way that you can tell your dog might be having this issue is a fishy smell from his nether regions.
Bonus: Pet Health Tips
You can prevent painful sunburns on yourself and your dog by using sunscreen. If you’re going to be outside, you should apply dog-safe sunscreen on your companion, especially if he is white (do not use the aerosol spray cans). If you don’t want to splurge on a “dog” sunscreen formula, then use any natural version that is indicated as safe for babies. It is not a good idea to let your dog lick off sunscreen that contains harmful ingredients (and it’s not good to put on your skin either). Trust me, if you’re putting it on him, he is going to try and lick it off, so opt for a safe brand.
Yes, dogs look cute in clothes, but that is not why we dress B up in his winter gear. He is a short-haired dog and we live somewhere that has brutally cold winters, so he always wears his coat. We use pet-safe salt on our driveway, but not everyone else does. As such, B also wears boots to protect his paws (it’s only a coincidence that they happen to light up when he walks).
What are your home remedies for your dog’s health issues?